Sunday, February 9, 2014

Bieganski and the Double Standard: Are Poles Really Stereotyped or are Poles Just Whiners?

Bieganski are Poles just whiny or is there really a double standard?

The previous three blog posts talk about Marian Marzynski's PBS Frontline documentary "Shtetl," my essay in response to it, and Tikkun Magazine's Rabbi Michael Lerner's response to my essay.

You can read those three blog posts here, here, and here.

One has to ask, is there really such a thing as stereotyping of Poles, or are Poles just whiners?

Yes, there really is such a thing as stereotyping of Poles. Yes, this stereotype distorts Holocaust, World War II, and immigration history, and, thus, it is of concern to any decent, informed person.

Yes, Poles are treated very much differently than members of other ethnic groups. That Poles are treated very much differently than members of other ethnic groups is demonstrated in chapter two of "Bieganski."

In the previous blog posts, linked above, I report on Rabbi Michael Lerner's response to stereotyping of Poles. In Rabbi Lerner's response, Poles deserve to be stereotyped, and Poles must prove their innocence. Further, Poles must do this in soundbites – they are allowed, maximum, a few thousand words.

How does Rabbi Lerner react – and how do others who share his worldview react – when members of other ethnic groups are stereotyped?

Chapter two of "Bieganski" quotes Rabbi Lerner extensively.

In November, 1993, Khalid Abdul Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam, made a virulently anti-Semitic speech at Kean College in New Jersey. His speech occurred during extensive tensions between African Americans and Jews. For example, there had been a riot in Crown Heights in 1991, sometimes labeled a pogrom, when a crowed of African Americans shouted "Kill the Jews." Yankel Rosenbaum was stabbed to death. Another man, mistaken to be a Jew, was also killed.

Some asked, is anti-Semitism a problem among African Americans?

As chapter two of "Bieganski" shows, Rabbi Michael Lerner was one of the many Jewish Americans who rushed forward to prevent any stereotyping of African Americans. Below is a very short excerpt from longer and more detailed comments found in chapter two of "Bieganski."

***Excerpt from "Bieganski" below***

Michael Lerner also suggested that Jews were using accusations of anti-Semitism among African Americans, in this case as "an excuse to deny our own racism toward blacks" and as "justification for some Americans to declare themselves 'disillusioned with the oppressed'" and to cut social programs for the poor…This trend of Jews as participants in, rather than victims of, black-Jewish relations veered into victim blaming. Blaming Jews for the anti-Semitism of blacks goes back at least to Michael Lerner's 1969 manifesto in Judaism, where he wrote: "black anti-Semitism ... is ... a tremendous disgrace to Jews, for this is ... rooted in the concrete fact of oppression by Jews of blacks in the ghetto. In short, this anti-Semitism is in part an earned anti-Semitism" (Lerner 475 1969). Lerner was ready with similar accusations to explain anti-Semitism among African Americans in 1994: "Jewish neoconservatives at Commentary and neoliberals at the New Republic have led the assault on affirmative action;" and Jews have "delighted in the prospect of throwing black women and children off welfare as soon as possible"

***End excerpt from "Bieganski."***

Around this same time, "Michael Lerner asked President Bush and the congress to cut off economic and political support to Poland"

Is there a double standard when it comes to Poles? Yes, there manifestly is.

Again, this four-part series of blog posts makes the following points:

Poles are stereotyped.

Poles face a Sisyphean task when confronting stereotyping.

The stereotyping of Poles distorts Holocaust, World War II, and immigration history and is, thus, of concern to any decent person.

Polonia's best course of action is not to blame anyone.

Please read these blog posts entitled "Stop Blaming the Jews" here and here.

What we should do is outlined here.

I have invited Rabbi Michael Lerner to respond to this series of blog posts and I welcome and will post any response from him or from his representative. I have also invited Prof. Michael Steinlauf, whose students appear` in "Shtetl." I would invite Marian Marzynski but I have no contact information for him. 

1 comment:

  1. I know I keep saying this, but it keeps being true. Doesn't your powerful post above go to show that we - the children of Adam - have learnt nothing at all from this constant memorialising of WW2?

    We still "uber" and "unter" people. Some groups of people have PC-protection, but some do not. Yet the most basic lesson we could have learnt from WW2 is not to do this.

    Which brings me back to the wisdom of our Creator, the true God, who has taught us that love "does not keep account of the injury".

    What has been the result of this constant keeping account of certain injuries?

    Nothing good, as far as I can see.


Bieganski the Blog exists to further explore the themes of the book Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture.
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